Class: Compact Crossover
Miles Driven: 366
Fuel Used: 16.1 gallons
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Real-world fuel economy: 22.8 mpg
Driving mix: 55% city, 45% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 22/27/24 (city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gasoline
Base price: $36,890 (not including $995 destination charge)
Options on test car: Cargo mat ($70), all-weather floor mats ($125), illuminated door sill plates ($400), special paint ($595), rear bumper guard ($125), retractable cargo cover ($250)
Price as tested: $39,450
The great: Plenty of power, sporty feel
The good: Comfortable and luxuriously appointed cabin
The not so good: Somewhat pricey in well-equipped Signature trim
When Mazda product planners were setting out goals for the 2019 CX-5 we can’t say how far down “retain Consumer Guide ‘Best Buy’ rating” was on their to-do list. Even if that point wasn’t raised at all, what they did choose to prioritize certainly caused no harm to the compact crossover sport-utility.
Twenty nineteen sees the arrival of an available—and quite lively—turbocharged engine, two new high-end trim levels, an improved version of Mazda’s “G-Vectoring Control” system, the addition of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility for most models, and minor interior updates. That’s enough to keep the CX-5 in CG’s good graces.
The top-of-the-line Signature that we sampled wrapped all of these changes into one tidy package. That’s because the turbo engine is offered only in the Signature and the Grand Touring Reserve that rests one rung below on the CX-5 pricing ladder. The test vehicle started at $37,885 with delivery, but topped out at $39,450 with its Soul Red Crystal paint and five other individual options.
While the Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring models stick with the naturally aspirated 187-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that has powered previous CX-5s, the 2.5 turbo in the Grand Touring Reserve and Signature makes as much as 250 ponies on premium fuel (227 on regular). Working through a 6-speed automatic transmission, this engine is flexible, fairly smooth, and quite responsive—all the more so in “Sport” mode, which palpably hastens throttle response. Peak torque of 310 lb-ft arrives fairly soon at 2000 rpm, so a turbo CX-5 is ready to get away from a stop in a hurry.
The turbo engine does not have the fuel-saving cylinder-deactivation feature incorporated in the base powerplant. At 22 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway, and 24 combined by the EPA’s reckoning, the turbocharged engine is two to three mpg less miserly than the 187-horsepower engine in an all-wheel-drive CX-5. This reviewer recorded 22.6 mpg after a test run of 162 miles that included 55 percent city-style driving.
Nimble handling and commendable steering feel are among the qualities that have made the CX-5 one of our favorites in this class, and that continues into 2019. The Reserve and Signature come only with all-wheel drive (front drive is an option for all lower-line models). G-Vectoring Control Plus adjusts power delivery front to back during cornering to better manage weight shifts and improve the driver’s sense of control through turns. Ride on the test truck’s fully independent suspension with standard 19-inch wheels was decidedly comfortable and nicely resistant to road shocks.
CX-5 Signatures feature a specific dark-silver finish on their alloy wheels. Interior distinctions include Caturra Brown Nappa-leather seats, a uniquely stitched leather-wrapped steering wheel, genuine wood trim, and a black cloth headliner. Added conveniences are a frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink remote; LED lighting for the glove box, cargo area, and vanity mirrors; an overhead console with LED room light and down light; 360-degree camera system; and front and rear parking sensors.
Of course, the Signature brings along plenty of other items from the lower branches of the CX-5 family. A partial list includes things like a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats, memory settings for driver’s seat, head-up instrument display, two-position reclining rear seat backs, moonroof, power liftgate, windshield-wiper deicers, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality. Safety-related technologies extend to forward-collision warning and mitigation, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and traffic-sign recognition.
The few complaints we’ve had with the CX-5 are less-than-class-leading cargo space and the “busy” infotainment-system controls that are dependent on a console controller. The cargo area has a flat floor that loads at bumper height and levers in the sides to release the backs of the 40/20/40 rear seats and center armrest. When the seats are retracted, they rest nearly flat, and the available space gets considerably better. Settings for the 10-speaker audio system, navigation, and other functions register on a 7-inch touchscreen that rises out of the dash, but manipulating them requires a lot of fiddling with the Commander Control dial. At least the dual-zone automatic climate system has its own separate controls that are more convenient.
Signature cabin appointments are excellent for the price, and soft-touch surfaces are generously distributed. Seats are comfortable and provide good support. Front passengers are accorded plenty of legroom. Rear legroom is a little close if the front seats are fully tracked back, but not half bad otherwise. Still, while Mazda terms the CX-5 a 5-passenger vehicle, there’s effectively room for just two adults in back. Headroom is plentiful in either row. Roof pillars that are somewhat thick restrict driver vision at those points.
Front-row personal-item storage is handled by door pockets with bottle holders; an ample glove box; two exposed cup holders in the console; and a small covered console box with an adjustable tray, 12-volt power point, and media-device inputs inside. Rear passengers get bottle pockets in the doors, pouches on the backs of the front seats, and twin cup holders in the center armrest that also carries a shallow covered storage space and the switches for the rear seat heaters.
In our eyes the CX-5 has been a value-packed winner for some time, and the power boost from the turbocharged engine makes it that much more appealing for 2019. Even if you weren’t thinking about us, Mazda, we were thinking about you.
Mazda CX-5 Signature